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Weakened by Gold Cup call-ups, RSL to face TFC

Posted on 26 June 2009 by kali

Just when Real Salt Lake got its mojo back, the rug is being pulled out from underneath it.

Four RSL players have received call-ups to their national teams for the upcoming Gold Cup: Kyle Beckerman (USA), Will Johnson (Canada), Andy Williams (Jamaica), and Jean Alexandre (Haiti). Johnson and Alexandre have already left the team for their respective training camps, while Williams and Beckerman will depart after Saturday’s match.

That means, for the next two or three matches at least, Real won’t have the full team that’s gone on a recent run of form. After defeating the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on June 13, Salt Lake battled to a 1-1 draw at Houston last Saturday, having led the Dynamo for most of the game until another RSL red card and a late Houston equalizer foiled a tremendous defensive effort.

Subsequently, as Real returns to Utah for a home game against Toronto FC on Saturday night, it has a lot to consider. After returning from Houston, Real defeated the PDL’s Ogden Outlaws 4-0 in an exhibition match on Tuesday. Coach Jason Kreis gave most of his starters at least a half in Ogden, with Yura Movsisyan scoring twice.

On Saturday, however, Real will be without defensive mainstay Jamison Olave, who was sent off against Houston, and RSL’s injury list is growing again as well. Strikers Robbie Findley and Fabian Espindola were listed as questionable this week. In addition, defenders Nat Borchers, Ian Joy, and Robbie Russell are considered probable for Saturday. Espindola, Borchers, Joy, and Russell all participated in the Tuesday exhibition, however. RSL has also reportedly released striker Luis Miguel Escalada, although the club has yet to make an official statement.

The international absences, suspensions, and injuries will force Kreis to make yet another change to his starting lineup against Toronto. Russell is the likeliest candidate to fill in for Olave in the back, while Johnson’s absence and the injured strikers mean that a change from the 4-3-3 formation that has worked so well for Real recently is also possible.

Meanwhile, Toronto brings some good form of its own to Rio Tinto Stadium, riding a three-game winning streak. TFC defeated the New York Red Bulls 2-0 at home on Wednesday night and won the Nutrilite Canadian Championship last week.

Toronto recently signed Canadian international Ali Gerba, but the striker has joined his national team for the Gold Cup and will not be available against RSL. In addition, defender Marvell Wynne remains with the US national team at the Confederations Cup in South Africa.

TFC’s Amado Guevara and Adrian Serioux were considered questionable this week but played 90 minutes against New York. In addition, defender O’Brian White had been listed as out this week; he was also on the official roster for Wednesday night’s match but did not play.

The match will kick off at 7:30 MT and can be seen locally on KUTV 2.2/Comcast 111.

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